In the academic world, faculty are evaluated on three aspects of their work:  teaching, research, and service.  Evaluation of research generally means counting how many articles the faculty member has had published, and how many of those were in peer-reviewed journals.  To be granted tenure or continuing appointment, the faculty member is expected to reach a minimum level of publication — two peer-reviewed journal articles, for example.

In a recent post on his blog, Jeffrey Pomerantz, a member of the faculty at the School of Information and Library Science at UNC-Chapel Hill, describes what he and his co-author, Diane Harvey of Duke University, went through as they tried to get an article published in the journal The Reference Librarian. I say “tried” because they ended up withdrawing the article from publication because they could not reach an agreement with Taylor & Francis, the journal’s publisher, on ownership of the copyright of their work.

Pomerantz and Harvey chose to take a stand against Taylor & Francis’s overly-restrictive copyright policy.  They could afford to take this stand, having received tenure and continuing appointment at their respective institutions.

Their work is not lost of the scholarly world.  They have posted it online here.  The article had already been through the peer-review process, and Pomerantz and Harvey had made revisions based on the reviewer’s comments.

Open access makes sense, and I am grateful that authors like Pomerantz and Harvey are challenging the policies of academic journal publishers.   I’m glad they’ve made the article available to the library profession, and I trust it will be preserved in one or both of their institutional repositories.

I have spent most of my professional life teaching students how to recognize scholarly publications, and my question is, does this count?  Will professors (including Pomerantz) be willing to accept openly published works when their students include it in their papers?  Are tenure and promotion committees and university administrations ready to accept articles like this one as publications?  Will journal publishers be able to find a publishing model that allows them to stay in business while also allowing scholars and researchers to retain control over their intellectual property?

And, by the way, how to we begin creating an institutional repository for the University of Mary Washington?